1114 girls drop out of school over pregnancy
About 1114 girls have dropped out of school in Ohangwena region in the past three years due to teenage pregnancy The Villager has uncovered.
In totality the number of school dropouts in the region including both pregnancy and other reasons shot to 7294 pupils in the period under review.
The dropouts affected the 253 schools primary and secondary schools in the Ohangwena region.
Ohangwena Regional Education Director, Sanet Steenkamp confirmed to The Villager that the school dropouts and teenage pregnancy rate is rife in the region.
“We have had a small decline for the past three years on teen pregnancy, however the school dropout is still very high. When we realised that the school dropout rate is not declining, we initiated youth health task force with different non- governmental organisations, teachers and community members,” she said.
Steenkamp told the Villager that the region registered 98 000 pupils this year which indicated a 3000 increase from last year.
According to the combined school dropout and teenage pregnancy statistics obtained from the Ohangwena education directorate, in 2012 about 2435 pupils dropped out of school, while in 2013 a total of 2447 pupil have dropped out of school and in 2014 a total of 2412 pupils have reported have dropped out of school.
The teenage pregnancy rate in 2012 was 437, while in 2013 it was 449 and it 2014 about 428 cases of teen pregnancies were reported.
Only about a third of teen mothers return back to school.
The regions highest rate of teen mothers is found in villages, where there are high levels of poverty and limited access to secondary education.
“Most of the pupils in Ohangwena region travel more than five kilometres to get to the nearest and the long distances fuels up the rate of high dropouts,” said Steenkamp.
Another contributing factor to the school dropout is the giving up of pupils on the education system.
“There are many reasons why many of the pupils dropout of schools but many of them dropout just because they do not want to be in school anymore and the situation is really alarming and it has become a very big concern to the education directorate,” she added.
Steenkamp said that the region has been rated number two in the whole country, after the two Kavango regions with the most high teenage pregnancy rate.
However, the overall rate has been declining over the past three years.
Most of the teen pregnancies happened between the ages of 13 to 20 years.
She said that the region needs a comprehensive approach in order to prevent the high dropout rate and the teen pregnancies amongst pupils.
The directorate has also initiated educational campaigns with a focus of prevention of teenage pregnancies, sex education abstinence and safe sex education.
“We are hopeful that with these sex educational campaigns, we will be able to prevent many as possible in school because our goal is to keep as much girl child in school until they complete their education. We want to empower this girls and prevent them from dropping out of school,” adding that many of the teen mothers return back to school. Ministry of Educaiton Permanent Secretary Alfred Ilukena told The Villager that the Ministry finds out the reaons for drop outs although there is not much it can do about young mothers returning to school. “We are here to provide education and that is what we are doing. We have a pregnancy policy that states that a girl can attend school while she is pregnant and even after giving birth. Now after giving birth, a girl can choose to come to school or not. If they decide not to come then we do not know what to do”Ilukena said.
by Hileni Nembwaya